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Mystic Mantra: Freedom from to freedom for

Father Dominic Emmanuel, a founder-member of the Parliament of Religions, can be contacted at frdominic@gmail.com
Published : Aug 15, 2018, 2:27 am IST
Updated : Aug 15, 2018, 2:27 am IST

It laid a solid foundation in the life of the new nation as well as crowned us with dignity and self-respect.

In the Catholic catechism we are taught that the purpose of our existence is to know, serve and love God and to be happy with him hereafter.
 In the Catholic catechism we are taught that the purpose of our existence is to know, serve and love God and to be happy with him hereafter.

We proudly celebrate again the Independence Day of our beloved country. Our great freedom fighters achieved it from colonial rule at the high cost of many sacrifices, including their lives at times. It was freedom from slavery and oppression to freedom to enjoy the rule by, for and of the people. It laid a solid foundation in the life of the new nation as well as crowned us with dignity and self-respect.

Speaking about freedom, one comes across various kinds of freedom that one can possess and enjoy, such as freedom of association, belief, speech, expressing oneself, the press, choosing one’s state of life, religion and belief or no belief at all, to mention just a few.

Freedom can be perceived as negative which is being free from interference and constraints or as positive which is being free, as psychologist Abraham Maslow famously defined, to self-actualisation. Freedom is important because it leads to enhanced creativity and original thought resulting in increased productivity. Freedom of course does not mean, “free to do whatever I want”, disregarding the well-being of others living next to me.

While the concept of freedoms described above are either political, sociological, economical or psychological, it does not consider an important area of human life which has to do with spirituality. True, we speak of “freedom from” or “freedom to” but broadening it to the spiritual arena, one must by all means include the idea of, “freedom for God”. For, being human means both body and soul, matter and spirit.

“Freedom for God”, would, on the one hand, mean growing steadily in our relationship with the divine and on the other, “freedom from” those things that hinder our relationship with God. This would then include many an evil that surrounds humanity in general and us as individuals in particular. Among these, selfishness and self-centredness could be the greatest obstacles to being “free for God”, making it difficult to walk the spiritual path.

It is indeed important that we fight for political and other types of freedoms. From the spiritual perspective, however, it is more important to fight against the evil tendencies that often bind us in our own little world, preventing us to make progress towards God. Ignatius of Antioch in the 2nd century AD had said: “God’s glory is man fully human and fully alive.”

In the Catholic catechism we are taught that the purpose of our existence is to know, serve and love God and to be happy with him hereafter. Is that not ultimately the freedom we need to busy ourselves with? And when God becomes the focus of our life, as in the life of Mahatma Gandhi, other freedoms and human values all automatically fall in place.

Tags: independence day, freedom, freedom fighters, spiritual path